Taylor Fritz’s dream of winning a maiden Masters 1000 title on home turf remains intact thanks to a hard-fought win over Miomir Kecmanovic.
The American world number 20 came out on top by a 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-1 scoreline to make it back-to-back semi final appearances in the desert.
Fritz will now face number seven seed Andrey Rublev in the last four on Saturday and he is anticipating another heavy-hitting encounter.
“We are 2-2 on the head-to-head. I beat him in the most recent one. These are really different conditions so I’ll have to feel it out,” he said during a post-match interview with Amazon Prime.
“He hits the ball big. When we play we are literally just crushing the ball but I’ll have to keep serving the way I am. Every time I’ve played Andrey, attacking the second serve has been a big part of it.”
Asked about what it means to once again be just one match away from a Masters 1000 final, he added:
IT’S AMAZING. THERE’S NO PLACE I’D RATHER DO IT. I GET MORE SUPPORT HERE THAN ANY PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. IT WAS A GREAT FEELING TO GET THROUGH THAT ONE.
The first stanza of the opening set proved to be an exemplar of powerhouse serving. Fritz came closest to making a breakthrough when he produced a sublime lob to conclude a bewitching rally but Kecmanovic hit clutch mode to make deuce and level up at 3-3.
The American number two had dropped just one point on serve but suddenly came under fire at 5-5 when a loose forehand gave the Serb two break points. Fritz responded to the sudden adversity with real panache, nailing a corking backhand up the line to finish off a 31-shot rally before scrambling out of danger from deuce.
Kecmanovic, who was featuring in the last eight of a Masters event for the second time, coolly forced the tie break but he left himself too much to do with a series of errors leading to a 5-1 deficit. The Serb almost pulled off the impossible by levelling at 5-5 but a brutal forehand winner and a hefty serve dragged Fritz over the line to take the breaker 7-5.
The 24-year-old Californian posed most of the questions in the early stages of Set 2 but could not make it count on the scoreboard as Kecmanovic again frustrated him to leave him 0/6 on break points.
Another tie-break looked on the cards but Fritz completely fell apart on serve as a flurry of double faults handed his opponent a precious break in Game Eight. Kecmanovic wobbled serving it out but a seventh break point went begging for the American before the 22-year-old Serb finally forced the decider on his third set point.
World number 61, Kecmanovic had already sprung a surprise with only his second ever Top 10 win against world number six Matteo Berrettini earlier in the week, but his momentum was immediately checked when Fritz finally broke at the eighth time of asking.
It proved decisive as the home favourite secured the insurance break soon after, allowing him to romp through at the expense of a flagging opponent and reach the second Masters semi final of his career.